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Horizon School Division
Creating a better world, one student at a time.
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June 23, 2017 - A Message from Kevin C. Garinger, Director of Education

June 26, 2017

We began this past week with my annual Director evaluation followed by the Board’s evaluation. The process for my evaluation began in the morning of the 19th and stretched well into the evening, moving to the Board’s evaluation, which concluded the afternoon of the 20th.  Seven of our 14 Horizon trustees who were elected or acclaimed back in October, were in their first year and so, were going through the evaluation processes for the first time. Of course, everything went very smoothly thanks in large part to the willingness of our Board to engage deeply in the process and to the facilitation efforts of Dr. Leroy Sloan. Dr. Sloan has been conducting the Board and Director evaluations in Horizon for the last 4 years and his wisdom and experience working with Boards across Canada, helps provide a context, a mirror of sort, from which we can look closely at ourselves and consider how our work is or is not supporting student learning in the most effective manner. I want to thank Leroy; I feel we could not have been nearly as effective in carrying out these important tasks without his leadership. As with everything we do, the work of our system is a collaborative practice involving each Horizon staff member, and these evaluations help to shine a light on that important work in every school and site across our school division. Moreover, as I will share at our celebration day in the fall, what a tremendous beacon we are becoming.

Following our evaluation work, I joined members of the Board and the Central Office staff at our year-end windup, consisting of a golf tournament and a meal. I want to say thank you to my Board for continuing to support a direction where they celebrate and pay tribute to those who work so hard everyday for our schools, our staff and our students. I also want to thank those members of my staff who were part of the organization of the event. The committee worked hard to provide an opportunity where fun and fellowship were a reality.

On Wednesday, to mark National Aboriginal Day at central office, Horizon School Division held a Reconciliation flag-raising ceremony. Representatives joined us for our inaugural event from a number of our First Nation partners. The morning began with a pipe ceremony, a first for myself and many of our Board and central office staff members, and was led by Austin Kay and Utin Machiskinic of Kawacatoose First Nation. We then moved outside for an Honour Song performed by the Horse Drum Group, including Horizon Trustee, Paul Crow-Buffalo. The Honour Song accompanied the raising of six flags, representing Day Star First Nation, Fishing Lake First Nation, George Gordon First Nation, Muskowekwan First Nation, the Reconciliation Flag and Horizon’s flag. Representatives from each First Nation raised these flags, and I was joined by Board Chair, Jim Hack, to raise Horizon’s flag. Following this ceremony, I had the opportunity to welcome our guests before hearing from Rhonda Bluehorn, Education Director for the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN), Sherry Foll of the Métis Nation of Saskatchewan, David Crow-Buffalo of Day Star First Nation,  and Chief Derek Sunshine of Fishing Lake First Nation. We also heard the testimony of George Gordon First Nation elder, Mr. Ed Bitternose, who shared his experience in residential school. A number of traditional dance performances, including a beautiful performance by Horizon’s own Melanie Gray, wrapped-up the morning; including a Round Dance where everyone in attendance joined hands, created a circle and celebrated each others humanity. The morning was extremely powerful, having the opportunity to hear from our partners and having them share their culture and experiences as a step forward on the path to reconciliation. I want to thank our First Nation partners and all those in attendance that morning for being a part of the ceremony. I also want to thank our staff, including Superintendent of Learning Services, Crandall Hrynkiw, Coordinator of First Nations & Métis Education Services, Lester Gardiner, Administrative Assistant, Shelley Schell, Curriculum Coach, Larry Mikulcik, for their work to put this ceremony together. Photos from the day can be reviewed here, and a great video put together by our friends at Bolt FM can be found online, here.

On Wednesday afternoon, I was joined by Superintendent of Student Services, Darrell Paproski, and Superintendent of Learning Services, Crandall Hrynkiw, to continue our Learning Improvement Plan (LIP) review meetings. Our meetings on Wednesday took us to Bruno School and Lanigan Central High School.

Englefeld Protestant Separate School Division (EPSSD) Board held their final meeting of the year Wednesday evening. The Board discussed such important issues as the approval of the 2017-18 budget, the EPSSD LINC Agreement, and the on-going work of the Education Governance Review. As we move into the final week of the 2016-17 school year, I want to thank the EPSSD Board for their continued dedication to the students and staff of Englefeld School as well as thank Patsy Knafelc and her staff for their ongoing support of our students.

Our LIP review meetings continued on Thursday, with Crandall, Darrell and I visiting Humboldt Public School, Humboldt Collegiate Institute, Muenster School, Lake Lenore School and Annaheim School. I would like to thank the staff and administrators at each of Horizon’s 41 schools for their work implementing and developing their LIPs this year. As I have said before, these critical documents provide the blueprint for the work we do in support of our students and give us metrics with which we can track our success.

We took a short hiatus from the LIP reviews on Thursday morning, as I had the great privilege of welcoming delegates to the Saskatchewan High School Athletics Association (SHSAA) annual general meeting. Horizon was thrilled to host the annual SHSAA conference in Humboldt this past week, and it was an honour to welcome everyone to Horizon School Division. All across Saskatchewan, students benefit from the work of the teacher-coaches, volunteers and officials that make up the SHSAA. Without question, the SHSAA has been and continues to be a leader in high school athletics in our country, and it was fantastic for Horizon to host such an important event for students.

On Thursday afternoon, following the last of our LIP meetings, I had the chance to speak with Clark Stork from Bolt FM regarding the 2017-18 Horizon School Division budget that has been submitted on behalf of our Board for approval by Ministry of Education. That interview can be found here. I want to state my appreciation for the great media we have in our system, who are always willing to help us share information with stakeholders in our communities.

On Friday, I joined a teleconference with the Deputy Minister’s Office and my fellow Directors of Education. Also on Friday, departmental exams began across Horizon School Division. I know that our students have worked extremely hard to prepare for these exams, and that our staff have worked just as diligently to help them prepare. As exams continue this week, I want to wish our students continued success and thank them for their efforts. It may seem abstract to think of it in these terms, but the studies of our youth are helping to create a brighter future for us all. As our students move beyond the classroom and join society as young adults, they will be equipped with an education that has prepared them to make our world a better place. As the former United Nations Secretary General, Kofi Annan, once said: “Knowledge is power. Information is liberating. Education is the premise of progress, in every society, in every family.”

Have a fantastic final week of the 2016-17 school year, everyone.

- Kevin

Kevin C. Garinger, B.Ed, M.A.Ed
Director of Education/CEO
Horizon School Division No. 205